Caroline Ciavaldini grew up as a competition climber, claiming considerable success in the IFSC World Cup and other major climbing events. By her own admission, winning was her goal. In the words of her husband, trad climber James Pearson, Caroline “wanted to kill” her fellow competitors.
Captivated by competition, training and competing on indoor walls, Caroline was “oblivious” to the fact that other types of climbing existed. However, a few years ago introspection led her towards another path. Caroline was dissatisfied with something within herself and wanted to explore a new direction.
James introduced Caroline to trad climbing on the English rock he’d grown up on – the “God’s own rock” gritstone of the Peak District. Caroline was quickly hooked and, unable to suppress her competitive drive completely, set herself the ambitious goal of becoming the first woman to free climb the Voie Petit on Mont Blonc.
Shifting Dreams is a short film that beautifully documents Caroline’s journey from competition climbing to the Voie Petit. The film features spectacular close up footage of the climb itself on one of the most imposing and exposed spires on Mont Blanc.
Initially opened by one of Caroline’s climbing heroes Arnaud Petit in the summer of 1997, the Voie Petit is widely considered the toughest high-altitude climb on the Alps and its 8b crux pitch is a major challenge. Though Petit opened the route in 1997 he didn’t free climb the crux pitch until 2005, when Alex Huber accompanied him on the first free climb of Voie Petit.
In order to become the first woman to free climb Voie Petit Caroline would have to overcome a number of hurdles, including fear. Since Petit and Huber used as few bolts as possible on Voie Petit there are, Petit notes, with classic climber’s understatement, “some sections where it’s better not to fall at all.”
“The first time (on Voie Petit) was a bit of a shock in the system,” Caroline confesses in Shifting Dreams, “I was really scared all the time.” Could she push through it to achieve her dream? Check out Shifting Dreams to find out.